Friday, January 28, 2005

Limit substandard care, not innocent victims damages

In Massachusetts in the last 10 years, "one-fourth of 1 percent of all the doctors — 98 of the 37,369 doctors — accounted for more than 13 percent of all the malpractice payments, $134 million of the $1 billion in total payments," according to Nancy Achin Audesse, executive director of the board that oversees medical professionals there.

It makes sense that regulating doctors rather than lawyers is the remedy for the medical malpractice crisis. Limiting substandard medicine benefits everyone, while placing ceilings on lawsuit damages would potentially deny justice to the families of patients who have been permanently injured by negligent or incompetent medical professionals.


Ted Rall asks this question and answers it with facts to back up his argument that "The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office finds that the costs associated with malpractice--buying insurance and paying out damage awards--amounts to less than two percent of America's skyrocketing healthcare expenses. "Even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower healthcare costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small," the CBO determined."

"Of course, there's an easy way for a doctor to avoid malpractice suits: do a good job. Do no harm and you probably won't get sued. And the courts are good at throwing out frivolous lawsuits before they become expensive.
Contrary to corporate belief, patients don't undergo surgery in hope of striking it rich as the result of some medical mishap. And victims rarely sue. Those who do are desperate for justice and money to cover the additional medical care necessitated by their doctor's incompetence."